Phenomxnal Womxn aims to rework the relationship between photographer, photograph and subject by creating collaborative portraits that explore the identities and stories of womxn. We create spaces for womxn to reclaim their own narratives and celebrate their individuality and identities as womxn.
Why We Are Here.
There is great power in representation. Since the inception of photography and its emergence into the African landscape, photography has been used as a tool for documentation and anthropological study. Scientists, researchers, journalists and anthropologists have been fascinated with capturing the African form, depicting them for their foreign features and attributes, their cultural and social norms and guises, their traditions and their distinctions – their otherness. In so doing, the images that they produced reduced the subjects of the photographs to ethnographic types.
This becomes even more apparent when womxn are the subjects, coupled with the captions that underlie the photos – wife to chief of Dagomba tribe, mother holding baby from Masai tribe. These photographers and their photographs overlook their subjects’ uniqueness, their identities, their dignities and their humanity.
What We Do.
We collaborate with womxn in underrepresented communities to produce and exhibit photographs. These are essential parts of the project as many womxn do not have access to galleries and may have never seen themselves nor their communities portrayed positively through photography or visual arts.
By creating a community exhibition and including the womxn in the art process, Phenomxnal Womxn enables them to interact directly with the photographs that they are represented. We work to reshape the ways that womxn see themselves while allowing underrepresented communities to be included in both the documentation of history and the art world.
How We Do It
How We Do It
Community Engagement and Employment
We work with Community Engagers – womxn who are deeply involved in the communities that we are based in. Our Phenomxnal Engagers ensure that we are creating safe spaces for the women that we are working with by staying in continuous conversation with them and consulting throughout the development of the project.
If we do not speak their language, we have a community member or our Engagers help facilitate communication. This is to ensure that the Womxn feel comfortable throughout our interactions and that there is an open line of communication between us.
Culture and Language Preservation
As local languages and cultures are slowly being lost in many parts of the world, we record the womxn’s stories in their local dialects. This is to ensure that the womxn are able to tell their stories in their own words. We work with translators, experts and educators to assist with transcribing and structuring the stories in the womxn’s local languages.
Our Community Engagers and Womxn Co-Artists (Womxn featured in the photos) are compensated for their work. We strongly believe in building generational wealth by providing Womxn that work with us with the resources and wages that they deserve.
Moreover, for every photograph that is sold, the Womxn Co-Artist receives 20% of the profit. The Community Engagers also receive a 10% token of gratitude. Engagers equally receive training, mentorship and professional support throughout their involvement in fields such as communications and design.